Charles Hanson column: How Derbyshire’s rural beauty inspired an artist in the 1800s

Derbyshire’s rural beauty has inspired innumerable artists. The jaw-dropping beauty of the Peak District and the county’s magnificent country houses are world-renowned.
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I was reminded of this when I saw an atmospheric painting of Haddon Hall, near Bakewell - lot 183 in Hansons’ April 8 Spring Fine Art Auction. It captures the period property from a side angle on a summer’s day with flowers billowing in the breeze. It’s the work of British artist Arthur Henry Knighton-Hammond, who lived from 1875-1970, and comes with an estimate of £300-£500. Surely, a small price to pay for original art by a man whose love of Derbyshire landscape led to his greatest accolades.

Haddon Hall, one of Derbyshire’s finest country houses and a filming location for period dramas such as Jane Eyre and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, offered inspiration to Arthur. In his youth, he practised landscape techniques at Haddon and in the Derbyshire Dales.

Born in Arnold, Nottinghamshire, in 1875, Arthur was the youngest of six. He left school at the age of 11 and worked in his brother’s grocery shop before his father apprenticed him to a watchmaker in Nottingham, against his wishes.

Antiques expert Charles HansonAntiques expert Charles Hanson
Antiques expert Charles Hanson

However, working in Nottingham enabled Arthur to attend the School of Art where he studied under Wilson Foster. Eventually, he persuaded his father to terminate his apprenticeship so he could take up art full time. In 1895, aged 20, he exhibited his first painting at Nottingham Castle Museum.

In 1900, Arthur moved to London, determined to make a living from painting. He studied at the Westminster School of Art and tuned into popular crazes, such as the demand for picture postcards.

In 1902, he married Winifred Reeves and set up home in London where they had two daughters. Later they moved to Youlgreave. He began to hold exhibitions of his work at Bakewell Town Hall and in 1907 a painting entitled Golden Autumn, Derbyshire, was accepted by the Royal Academy. The following year, An Autumn Afternoon, Lathkil Dale, Derbyshire, was also accepted by the Royal Academy – his biggest achievements. He continued to travel and develop his art throughout his life, building a major body of work which has gained much respect and admiration.

In artistic contrast, the April 8 auction also offers 12 paintings by British painter David Wilde who lived from 1934-1978. Though born 59 years after Arthur, the two were working at the same time. Both died in the 1970s as Arthur lived to the grand old age of 95.

Lot 184- Arthur Henry Knighton Hammond (British,1875-1970), Haddon Hall, Derbyshire, signedLot 184- Arthur Henry Knighton Hammond (British,1875-1970), Haddon Hall, Derbyshire, signed
Lot 184- Arthur Henry Knighton Hammond (British,1875-1970), Haddon Hall, Derbyshire, signed

David’s work oozes futuristic style. If you seek joie de vivre, his vibrant work cannot help but draw the eye. Inspired by storms, magic, fireworks, shooting stars and Venice, among many other things, David’s art delivers an uplifting mix.

For example, lot 172 is entitled Fantastic Fireworks for the Dodge, Venice, £150-£200. Then there’s lot 176, Enter the Magician, £100-150; lot 177, Storm at Sea, Maroons Fired, £200-£300; lot 179, Electrical Storm over Venice, £150-£250 and lot 184, Summer Storm Port Penryhn, £200-300.

Born and raised in a working-class family in Rusholme, Manchester, David (birth name Norman Shacklock) was accepted into the Manchester School of Art at the age of 15. After working as a draughtsman during the Second World War, he became a technical illustrator and was also a successful erotic illustrator on the continent where he exhibited alongside Dali and Picasso.

He became acquainted with Peter Blake and L.S. Lowry but David’s abstract, futuristic paintings were a million miles away from Lowry’s matchstick men.

These paintings and hundreds of beautiful items can be viewed online at www.hansonslive.co.uk in Hansons’ April 8 Fine Art and April 9 Curated Ceramics and Glass auction catalogues. Entries are invited for Hansons’ April 29 Derbyshire Fine Art and Jewellery Auction and consignments are welcome for all monthly general and specialist sales. To arrange a free valuation or covid-safe house visit, email [email protected].